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The Happy Priest on Overcoming Sloth and Being a Professional Catholic

By Fr. James Farfaglia
September 30th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Constancy in the spiritual life, especially under difficult circumstances, characterizes the existence of the true disciple of Christ.This Sunday's Gospel passage is very demanding. 

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Without a doubt, Christianity challenges us every day.    Our entrance into Heaven is not a guaranteed reality.

Self-reflection is necessary in order to find out if there are any particular sins or attachments that might prove to be obstacles to our achieving eternal salvation. 
 
Many people in our present day have experienced profound conversions.  The personal testimonies of life changing experiences bear continual witness to the ever-present action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all those who are searching for happiness and peace.
 
However, conversion is a daily enterprise.  Every day we are faced with choices and challenges that affect our relationship with the Lord.  It is not easy to be faithful. But God's grace makes discipleship not only possible; it also makes it an amazing adventure.
 
We must not be surprised that Christianity essentially implies a daily, personal struggle.  Commitment and battle go hand in hand.  We have to take very seriously the fact that our human nature is wounded by Original Sin. 

Every day presents a new opportunity to begin again.  God's loving mercy is always available to us through the sacrament of Confession.  It is precisely God's loving willingness to forgive our sins that fills us with the hope of eternal life.

Constancy in the spiritual life, especially under difficult circumstances, characterizes the existence of the true disciple of Christ.

This Sunday's Gospel passage is very demanding. 

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched'" (Mark 9: 47-49)

Most people in our country are well educated.  It is common that people not only have a high school diploma, they also have a college degree.  Many people continue their education and get a masters degree and some even get a doctorate.

Most people in our country have good jobs.  They are successful and enterprising in their endeavors.   It is safe to say that our country is a nation comprised of a people, for the most part, who are professional in what they do. 

Wouldn't be nice if we were professional in our relationship with Jesus?

Wouldn't be nice if we were to put the same effort that we put into our education and our jobs into our spiritual life?

What is it that keeps people from being professional in their relationship with the Lord?  The answer can be found in one of the seven deadly sins and that sin is sloth. 

Sloth is a disease of the will. 

What happens to the individual ruled by sloth?

People controlled by sloth don't get anything accomplished.   People controlled by sloth are targets for every temptation that the devil has to offer.  They just lie there on the ground like cow manure covered with flies.  Flies can't stick to something that is moving fast.  And people ruled by sloth have a real hard time getting into Heaven.  They are too lazy to live out the demands of the Gospel.   

If sloth is a problem for you, what can you do to get rid of it?

First of all, you have to have purpose in life.  Once you figured out your purpose in life, you can fulfill the duties that are part of your state in life. Are you single?  Are you married?  Are you consecrated to God?  Your state in life carries with it certain duties and obligation.  Fulfill those duties with maturity, coherence, authenticity and perfection.

Secondly, you need to have a strong will.  Remember that sloth has been defined as a disease of the will.  So, it is going to be important to clean up the will by making it strong.  Make your bed with perfection every morning; polish your shoes; dress correctly; be punctual for church and your daily appointments; and keep your room neat and tidy.

A sturdy and consistent spiritual life is essential.  We have to stay connected to the Lord.  He will give us strength and fill us with peace.  The regular use of the sacrament of confession is essential.  We need to stay spiritually alive.  And when it comes to sin, we all get bent out of shape about the bad things that we do, but how many of us are concerned about the good things that we don't do because of laziness, tepidity and apathy?

Here is a challenge for this week.  Do you want your life to change?  Do you want to achieve progress in your spiritual life?  Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get to Heaven? 

Take a few moments in order to analyze your good points and your weaknesses.  Figure out what is your dominant defect.  Develop a plan of action to eradicate that dominant defect from your life and stick to it.

Always make good use of the Sacrament of Confession.  This is your best weapon in your fight against personal sin.  Develop and be consistent with your daily spiritual life. Do not engage in this battle alone.  Ask your spouse for help.  Be accountable to each other.  One of the purposes of marriage is the good of the spouses.  Be accountable to your parish priest.  He is trained to help you.  Let your parish family be a source of inspiration, motivation and accountability.
 
Life is a struggle and it always will be.

We need to be excited about Jesus and his Church.  We need to be excited about getting to Heaven and bringing others with us.  We need to be excited about making this world a better place for everyone.  We need to be professional Catholics.  This is called personal holiness. 

Don't let sloth ruin your chance of living a life filled with joy.

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched'" (Mark 9: 47-49).

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Father James Farfaglia, is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics.  You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.

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